Climate Change: Adaptation versus Mitigation
Climate change is one of nature’s most transcendent threats and poses an increasing challenge to the way we manage the natural environment as we know it. It’s adaptation that could provide the answer especially in protected areas of the planet.
If we say that our planet has already suffered modifications as a result of climate change, then we are not uncovering anything new. Among these changes, we find rising global temperatures, the melting of snow and ice on a large scale, much longer and more frequent droughts, changes in the intensity and the timing of storms and the seasonal calendar, the rising sea-level, its associated impacts on our coasts and the acidification of the marine environment.
In response to these changes, some plant and animal species are also being affected at the same time that the seasonal events that govern them are being interrupted. In some cases, it’s the entire ecological regions that are rapidly changing. Transformations that come as a result of climate change interact with many other forms of environmental stress such as fragmentation and habitat loss, pollution, the spread of invasive species and overexploitation. Moreover, the impact from much of this tension is accumulative and overlapping.
“Broadly speaking, the response to climate change can be divided into “mitigation” and adaptation measures.”
What must be done against this backdrop? Broadly speaking, the response to climate change can be divided into “mitigation” (measures that reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases) and “adaptation” (measures that allow for an adjustment to climate change by means of human and natural systems).
Faced with these two types of action, protected areas must be taken into account such as polar, mountainous, coral and forest ecosystems which play a critical role in developing an effective response to climate change. Protected areas are very important as they offer us with “natural solutions” against climate change and its associated effects. The ecosystems that have remained relatively unimpaired within these aforementioned protected areas provide effective benefits and solutions, including significant carbon storage, the natural generation of clean water, a resistance to storms and other dangers, as well as a large number of other ecosystem benefits. In addition, unimpaired protected areas enable many species to adapt to the changing climate by providing the necessary refuge in order to respond to different conditions in a local and controlled manner.
“Adaptation is a medium-term solution that provides us with a lot of information but it is only a complementary solution.
In short, for protected areas to be part of the solution, they must be managed in a way that takes climate change into account as well as their own adaptation to it. Likewise, national and international adaptation strategies for climate change are becoming increasingly important.
Adaptation is a medium-term solution that provides us with a lot of information but it is only a complementary solution, and should go hand in hand with mitigation policies.